Argentina’s plan to not join BRICS reflects its uncertain foreign policy, makes its economic recovery more arduous
Published: Dec 30, 2023 07:42 PM
Javier Milei, President of Argentina. (Photo: VCG)

Javier Milei, President of Argentina. (Photo: VCG)

According to the Associated Press, Argentine President Javier Milei has formally announced that Argentina won't be joining BRICS framework of developing economies. Although Milei stated that the moment was not "opportune" for Argentina to join as a full member, he said that he will seek to "intensify bilateral ties" with the BRICS countries to increase "trade and investment flows." Experts believe that refusing to join BRICS shows that Milei lacks a strategic vision. For Argentina, joining multilateral platforms like the BRICS is exactly what Argentina needs to achieve an economic recovery. Now it seems that this opportunity is slipping through Milei's fingers.

The Argentine government's decision is not unexpected. In less than one month since Milei took office, his government has taken multiple measures in hopes of curing Argentina's economic ailments through radical means. Experts believe that it is not surprising that Argentina has temporarily refused to join BRICS, but from Milei's statement, it can be seen that he remains contradictory on the matter. 

Wu Hongying, director of the Institute of Regional and International Studies at Hubei University, told the Global Times that the Milei government's refusal to join the BRICS means that he values the Western camp more than cooperation with developing countries, so he has made a temporary political choice. However, he also sees the increasing influence of BRICS countries, and the bloc's economic influence cannot be ignored, so he emphasizes promoting pragmatic cooperation through bilateral relations. 

Milei's mindset is one of contradiction. Lin Hua, the secretary-general of Argentina Research Center, said that the Milei government's choice not to join BRICS makes it difficult to strengthen bilateral relations with member countries, adding that over the long run, this choice will likely create friction between Argentina and the BRICS countries.

Milei lacks a strategic vision, expert said. Refusing to join the BRICS may not have a significant impact on Argentina in the short term. However, from an international perspective, it reflects the uncertainty of Argentina's foreign policy. The huge policy changes before and after have also had a certain impact on Argentina's international reputation. 

It can be seen that Milei is following his campaign agenda. He visited the US in August and November of this year, indicating his desire to seek US support for Argentina's future economic adjustments. Choosing not to join BRICS proves that Milei believes that joining the group is equivalent to being on the opposite side of the US. However, Lin believes that it is doubtful whether the US will provide substantial support to Argentina because it has opted to not be part of BRICS. The US' support for Argentina is more about not wanting to see the BRICS, which is seen as a counterbalance to the Western-dominated world, become stronger. Analysts pointed out that Milei has overlooked the historical and current contradictions between the US and Argentina and failed to realize the current strategic focus and hegemonic nature of the US.

In the context of competition between China and the US, most Latin American countries still follow a relatively neutral diplomatic principle of not taking sides. However, Milei taking office is likely to have a certain impact on the current situation. He has clearly stated that he wants to make the US the core of his foreign policy, which may have a certain impact on the direction of the diplomatic situation in Latin America. The choice of the Milei government reflects its confusion in finding the right path for development. A growing number of Latin American countries have found, after hundreds of years of Western development, that this path has not solved their fundamental problems of weak economic growth and social injustice. The development of the BRICS countries provides them with another choice for development. 

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning once pointed out that BRICS is an important platform for stronger solidarity and cooperation among emerging markets and developing countries to uphold common interest. It is an open platform. We welcome all countries that are interested in becoming  a member of the BRICS family. 

However, for a country's development, there is a historical window of opportunity. Wu believes that Argentina will regret not joining BRICS in the future because it missed the opportunity. For Milei, it is easy to throw out slogans before the election. There is a Chinese saying: "You have no idea how much rice and fuel cost without being the head of a household." The BRICS countries are playing an increasingly important role in the global economic landscape. Argentina's economy is in desperate need of economic revival, and the market needs investment. Not joining the BRICS will have an impact on Argentina's access to funds and technological investment. Milei's government wants to solve Argentina's economic crisis, but its diplomatic choices have made this task even more arduous.